How to Start Warhammer The Old World BEFORE First Release Like a Pro!

February 21, 2022 by Solar Cross

At the time of writing, Games Workshop’s Warhammer The Old World is still in development and it may still be another year away from its first release. Do we need to wait until then before starting to build and paint a Warhammer The Old World force? Or is there something we can to do today to ready ourselves?

It can take a fair chunk of time to get an army built and painted ready for the table. Having something ready before release will help us have something ready to play on the day it drops.

It might be said that building and painting an army for a brand new game well in advance of its first release is almost unheard of. However doing this in the case of Warhammer The Old World may indeed be quite viable though. In this article we will show why and how.

Key Reveals on The Old World

We want to make use of what little we know now about how the game will be before investing time and money in putting a force together for it ahead of time. Or else, we risk building a force that does not fit the rules or the setting.

To this end the little glimpses into what is to come that is dropped on the Warhammer Community site are invaluable.

The development of the Warhammer The Old World was first announced on the Warhammer Community site back in November of 2019. From then until now we have had only a few details of what to expect from the release when it finally comes. Those little details however are quite sufficient to get us started on a safe course.

I wrote about the first announcement in this article: 3 Ways the Warhammer The Old World. I also re-examined these speculations in the light of more recent updates in this article: Warhammer The Old World Update, Was I Right?

To summarise here the key reveals so far and their implications for those of us starting new armies in before release:

The Old World Rules

The latest update has informed us that the rules of Warhammer The Old World will be very like Warhammer Fantasy Battles. This tells us something quite important in the context of the grief felt by many Warhammer Fantasy Battles players on the game’s destruction to make way for Age of Sigmar.

It tells us that The Old World will be GW’s way to make amends to those veteran players outraged at the apparently permanent retirement of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. So we can expect that The Old World will be similar enough to Warhammer Fantasy Battles that the collections of these players will be absolutely playable with the new rules.

No doubt there will be new releases as well but all (or at least most) of the old models should be usable. What this means for those starting a new force today is that any models and factions that were released for Warhammer Fantasy Battles should also be fine for The Old World. That is with a few caveats that I will get to later.

Many of these models are still sold new although repackaged under Age of Sigmar branding. One thing to be aware of with these boxes is that they are currently packaged with the round bases suitable for Age of Sigmar but not the square ones appropriate for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. This is not the end of the world (pun intended), because there are many alternative sources for square bases. See below for more details.

Also these older, even out of production, kits are readily available in the pre-owned markets like ebay too. There they may be found in all states from fully painted to completely unpunched and at every price from extortionate to bargain basement.

Find Warhammer Fantasy Battles miniatures on ebay here!

Bases for The Old World

It has been confirmed that the basing convention for The Old World will be for square bases, as appropriate for a rank and flank game. Square bases enable a solid reading of a regiments’ front, rear and flanks, which is so crucial to the core mechanics of rank and flank games.

In Warhammer Fantasy Battles each individual soldier would have his own square base. This is so that casualties can be removed individually and to allow groups to reform their frontage and formation depth in a fine grained way.

However many other rank and flank games, such as Warmaster and King’s of War by Mantic, take a more streamlined approach by having multiple models mounted together on larger square (or rectangular) bases.

It is probably safe to assume models for The Old World will base in exactly the same way as Warhammer Fantasy Battles did, but there is a small possibility they may do some revision here by doing basing in a way similar to Warmaster or King’s of War.

Until we know for sure, basing individually now may only set us up for some re-basing later when the game is released. Even if so, that is not a major issue. It is far easier to adapt individually based models to a group basing than to do the reverse.

See what discounts on square bases that Element Games has here.

Model Scale for The Old World

Although I hoped The Old World would shift to 10mm scale, as with Warmaster, it has been confirmed that the game will be on the same 28mm scale as Warhammer Fantasy Battles. This would make all the models released for Warhammer Fantasy Battles broadly suitable with a few caveats.

As I have observed in this article, Games Workshop seems to be moving away from “heroic scale”. Likely this will mean that new releases for The Old World will also be proportioned in True Scale. They may look more like the some of the newer releases for Age of Sigmar such as the Gravelords and the Krule Boyz. That being the case it may make sense choose models that are also in, or close to, true scale to better fit the new aesthetic.

The Setting of The Old World

The setting for The Old World, as implied by its name, will be essentially the same as that of Warhammer Fantasy Battles except set in an earlier time period. This is the key reason we could start a The Old World faction before its release; at least some of the relevant models are already for sale in the Age of Sigmar. Old hands know that many kits designed for Warhammer Fantasy Battles were simply repackaged with different bases for Age of Sigmar.

The Old World will be set in an earlier period though, so we could expect some aesthetic and technological differences with Warhammer Fantasy Battles. For most factions that should make no difference to their aesthetics or options.

The human factions however are likely to be somewhat different. We might find that certain high tech options from Warhammer Fantasy Battles like Dwarf Gyrocopters, Empire Rocket Artillery and Skaven Ratling Guns are not present in this earlier period. This is just speculation but until confirmed by the designers I would be cautious about expecting them.

Factions of The Old World

The reveals so far have given some details for the Bretonnia, The Empire, Kislev and Wood Elf factions. However all the old factions of Warhammer Fantasy Battles are likely to get fresh rules if not necessarily fresh models.

There are some factions though that may get a substantial reworking in terms of aesthetics and new models. For those it may be much better to wait for the forthcoming releases rather than create now with existing models.

I believe that factions that were represented by Games Workshop models of their earlier crude designs will be mostly likely to get a refresh. I have noted elsewhere that the peculiar style of sculpt that veteran hobbyists call “heroic scale” seems to be being phased out by Games Workshop.

Other factions that it might be better to wait for are those that seem to be likely to get a thorough reworking to better fit the change in time.

Thus it seems very likely that Bretonnia, The Empire and Kislev will get new models and probably a completely refreshed range of models.

The Worst Factions to Start Blind

Any faction that is likely to get a complete overhaul and new releases is going to a bad choice to start before release. This of course will be factions like Kislev and Bretonnia which have no models currently stocked at retail and have already been mentioned as being included in The Old World.

Other factions from The-World-That-Was that may be risky to start would be those that, in lore, are geographically bound to an area far from the primary arena of conflict. These will probably included as the game is scheduled for follow up releases but there may be no rules for them early on.

If you like your named heroes then you might find that the races with short lived lifespans, such as the human factions, orcs, goblins and skaven do not have the same named heroes in The Old World as they did in the End Times of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. For example, Karl Franz will not be Emperor of the Empire.

Although some models for named heroes may still work as generic lords or as new named heroes depending on how the rules turn out.

The Best Factions to Start Blind

The best factions to start blind are the ones that are known from Warhammer Fantasy Battles, still have new models for sale and are unlikely to have changed much in terms of aesthetics and armaments since the period of the The Oldworld.

For bonus points, factions with long lived named characters are worth a look too. All the Elves, Lizardmen and Dwarfs have long lived named characters that could have or did live in this earlier period.

Lizardmen / Seraphon

The Lizardmen of Warhammer Fantasy Battles that live on in the Age of Sigmar as Seraphon are a good faction to start before The Old World comes out. Most of their models are still for sale and they are likely to be much the same as they were in Fantasy Battles.

A point against them is that their home arena is the continent of Lustria which is quite far from Kislev and Chaos Wastes border. For this reason, they may not be among the first factions to get updated rules for the The Old World.

They have a start collecting box, Seraphon.

High Elves / Lumineth Realm-lords

At the time of writing the entire line of old high elf models has disappeared from the shelves. You can still find them on ebay of course. However in the Age of Sigmar they did get a number of new releases as the Lumineth Realm-lords. At least some this new line look like updated versions of the old lines. For example the Windchargers look like updated Elysian Riders.

Wood Elves / Sylvaneth

Wood Elves are my personal choice of army to start before The Old World release. The designers have confirmed they will be a faction in The Old World. Much of their line still exists as Sylvaneth and a few entries under Cities of Sigmar. Their aesthetics should not be too different in this older period, especially the tree people units like the Dryads.

A great place to start with Wood Elves is to get the Sylvaneth Start Collecting Box which has 16 Dryads, A Branchwraith and a Treeman. I sourced my box on ebay. Of course square bases for them will have to be sourced elsewhere for now.

Sylvaneth Start Collecting with Free Lunatic

Dark Elves

Like the Wood Elves much of their old Fantasy Battles lines still exist in the Age of Sigmar. Their units are divided among Daughters of Khaine and Cities of Sigmar. They currently have two Start Collecting Boxes in the Age of Sigmar to choose from: Daughters of Khaine and Anvilgard.


Many of the old Dwarf kits are still available under the Cities of Sigmar and they have a Start Collecting box too with the Greywater Fastness. The Greywater Fastness box however includes a Gyrocopter and we can not be too sure they will have been yet invented in the The Old World setting.

The old trollslayers of Warhammer Fantasy Battles were spun off as a faction of their own, Fyreslayers, in the Age of Sigmar. Some of these models may be usable then to represent Dwarf Slayers and Slayer Heroes.

Back in the day the Dwarfs were one of the more popular factions to collect so it seems likely that they would reappear in the The Old World.

Vampire Counts / Soulblight Gravelords

Once again the Vampire Counts are a Fantasy Battles faction that largely survived into the Age of Sigmar. Indeed, this faction received many new releases in the Age of Sigmar and most of them would fit perfectly in the Warhammer Fantasy Battles setting. Plastic Bloodknights, new skeletons and zombies are among the new releases that are a perfect fit for The-World-That-Was.

They have two Start Collecting Boxes: Flesh Eater Courts and Soulblight Gravelords.

Chaos / Beastmen

We know that Chaos will be an important protagonist in the story action of The Old World. Consequently we can be sure they will be represented early on in the release cycle but there is also a good chance that they will have many new models. Being chaos, so chaotic, they could look very different too.

Many of the old lines still exist in the Age of Sigmar. They have five Start Collecting Boxes that are worth a look: Khorne Daemons, Goreblade Warband, Beasts of Chaos, Daemons of Slaanesh and Slaves to Darkness.


It seems likely that Skaven will feature in The Old World. Their Under Empire allows them access to any theatre of battle in The-World-That-Was.

Quite a few of their old lines still exist in the Age of Sigmar and are easy to find in the Age of Sigmar as they were the only Warhammer Fantasy Battles faction to go into Age of Sigmar without a name change.

They only have one Start Collecting box, Clan Pestilens.

Skaven Plague Monks of Clan Pestilens

Orc and Goblins

I almost put this faction in the “Worst Factions” category because, as we shall see, it is very hard to know what they could look like in The Old World.

In the Age of Sigmar the old models for Orcs and Goblins were largely retired and heavily re-worked as Orruks and Gloomspite Gitz. More recently the orcs were re-worked again as Kruleboyz with a very different aesthetic.

Where the old orcs (and orruks) were cast in a cartoonish way using heroic scale, the new Kruleboyz have a more sinister style and are cast in true scale. You can read about this dramatic style change in my article Games Workshop May be Abandoning Heroic Scale.

In The Old World, orcs could fallback to the old aesthetic still represented in the Savage Orruks models from decades ago. Or they could appear in the form, and using the models, of the new Kruleboyz. For this reason it is not easy to guess what orcs might look like in The Old World.

For myself I gambled that the Kruleboyz would be the new look for orcs. Although I am not interested in Age of Sigmar, I did source two sets of Kruleboyz split from the Dominion boxset on ebay.

It is a bit easier with goblins though. In Warhammer Fantasy Battles goblins were of two main types, regular goblins and the robe wearing night goblins. In the age of Sigmar regular goblins mostly disappeared but the night goblins got rebranded as Gloomspite Gitz and received a number of new releases that would fit very well with Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

It seems likely then that a Night Goblin themed army, using Gloomspite Gitz, should be safe start for an Orcs and Goblins army in the coming The Old World.

The Gloomspite Gitz Start Collecting Box is a bit light on Night Goblins though, as it is packed mostly with trolls and squigs.

Ogre Kingdoms

Last but not least, especially in girth, are the Ogre Kingdoms. Rebranded as Ogor Mawtribes in the Age of Sigmar almost all of the old Ogre models are still available. They have a Start Collecting box: Beastclaw Raiders. It has five really big models!

The Ogre Kingdoms are situated in Mountains of Mourn which is quite proximate to both Kislev and the Chaos Wastes. It seems likely they will appear in the narrative fairly early.

Other Manufacturers

It has to be said that the Games Workshop are not the only manufacturers of models suitable for use in either Warhammer Fantasy Battles or The Old World. Have a look at this article on the opportunities and issues with sourcing models from alternative manufacturers.

Getting Based

After sourcing your models comes the challenge of basing them. Any models you buy under the Age of Sigmar branding will most likely come packaged with round or oval bases which will not be usable in The Old World.

Happily, square and rectangle bases of all kinds of sizes and materials can be sourced from many other manufacturers. Plastic is usually the cheapest and easiest to work with (at least with plastic models) but both resin and mdf have their uses too.

See what discounts on square bases that Element Games has here.

The main challenge is in determining the size of bases that you need for your models. We do not know yet what the conventions will be for The Oldworld but it is likely to follow that of Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

Basing Conventions for Warhammer Fantasy Battles

In Warhammer Fantasy Battles the convention was for most models to be individually based. Man-sized infantry would either be mounted on 20mm squares or 25mm squares if they were too large for a 20mm square. Monstrous infantry, like ogres, would be on 40mm squares.

Regular sized cavalry would be mounted on 25mm x 50mm rectangles. Larger cavalry, chariots and very large monsters would typically go on 50mm x 100mm rectangle.

The Oldworld Could Be a Bit Different

Over the years “scale creep” saw models sizes increase over time, especially as the switch from metal to plastic reduced material costs. Consequently the models for Warhammer Fantasy Battles outgrew their basing conventions. Back in the day, it was a common complaint that models would not “rank up” easily as much of a model would overhang the base with which it was supplied. You can see an example of this in my review of Games Workshop’s Empire Handgunners.

Games Workshop may address this with a shift in conventions. Perhaps 25mm squares will be the norm for what was once 20mm.

My best advice would be to source your models before sourcing your bases. Build your models and then temporarily site them on card proxy bases of different sizes. Look down on the model from overhead and see how much of the model overhangs the base. If you have minimal overhang then that should do just fine. Use that size when ordering your permanent bases.

Size your bases to minimise overhang. The left is good, the right is too small.

Some players are OCD “rules lawyers” about base sizes but a literal reading of any GW ruleset shows that the games designers were less strict about what size bases could be used. I think if it is large enough to minimise overhang without being obviously oversized then you are good to go.

[EDIT – additional] Official Update on The Old World Bases

Games Workshop has now provided an update on the standard base sizes. As predicted, bases sizes will be a bit bigger than had been for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. In general it looks like bases sizes will go up by 5mm in width and length.

So 20mm squares will go up to 25mm and 25mm squares will go up to 30mm. Cavalry bases will presumably go up from 25mm x 50mm to 30mm by 60mm.

The standard monster base was 40mm square, likely that will go up to 50mm squares.

Additionally in this update, they assure that old base sizes are fine for casual play. However do warn that competitive environments, like tournaments, may insist on the new standard.

Final Thoughts

The Old World will essentially be a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, albeit set in a different time period. So it should be quite safe to start building an army for it before release.

Which army will you start? Or will you wait for the release?

Share this article to my twitter @SolarCrossGames or my reddit community r/SolarCrossGames and let’s chat about it.

If you interested in more articles about Warhammer Fantasy Battles or The Old World then check out this link for more.

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